How To Keep Your Data Safe From Wireless Hackers

In the world of small business, the thought of Cyber Security, protecting customer data and monitoring log files for hacker activity usually takes a backseat to the daily grind of selling more product, the next advertising piece, making payroll, tax issues, employee problems, etc.  Who has time for it, right?

One group does have time for it – Data Thieves. And a lot of them.

There are many facets to cyber security and protecting your data including operating system updates, spyware detection, good passwords and the human factor.

In this post I will focus on how they steal your data through a very common device – your wireless router.

‘But my WIFI router uses a password so it’s safe, right?’ No…Not Necessarily.

In my former life as an owner/operator of a wireless internet service provider (WISP), I dealt with home, business and carrier grade wireless routers daily. Every router has it’s weakness. Especially the consumer grade routers you can buy off the shelf at any big box store.

One of the most common flawed features found on the majority of consumer grade routers is called WIFI Protected Setup (WPS). There are numerous websites describing in great detail how to hack WPS to gain access to the encryption password used by everyone connecting to the router. Once the hackers have the password they can easily use a wireless data ‘sniffing’ program to steal confidential data, usernames and passwords. The sky is the limit once they have your username and password to things like online banking, business servers, email, Facebook, etc.

So what can you do? Login in to your WIFI router and disable WPS asap! No option to disable WPS? Then it’s time for a new router. Consumer grade routers have no place in business, but if you must use one in your business make sure it has the option to disable WPS.

‘My WIFI router is inside the office. Isn’t that safe?’ Definitely not.

Most routers have a range of about 600 feet depending on how many obstructions there are. The building walls can certainly reduce that range to maybe 100 feet. The problem is that with the right directional antenna a hacker could be 2000 or more feet away and still sniff the wireless data. If your router is close to a window that distance could greatly increase.

There are many more security issues with WIFI routers including cracking the WPA2 encryption keys without using the WPS hack, which again exposes your data to the ‘sniffing’ programs. It seems the hackers are always one step ahead of the wireless designers and manufacturers. I’ll cover many of those issues and practical ways to deal with them in future posts.

I always welcome your comments and suggestions. Need help securing your business from data thieves? Just give me a shout and I’ll be glad to give a hand. Thanks for listening!

Email: D a v i d  a t npgcomputers D o t  C o m.



Quick Bio: My tech life has involved small to large data networks, server installation and administration, virus / spyware removal, data backup and recovery, wired / wireless security, programming and other tech things since 1987.